FROSTBURG, Md. (AP) — Keeping themselves "in stitches," a group of area women have dedicated themselves to transforming simple pieces of fabric into works of art.
Known as the Cover-Up Girls, a group of local quilters spends every Wednesday and Friday morning at the Frostburg Senior Center working on various quilting projects.
Their latest endeavor is a quilt to commemorate the Frostburg Bicentennial, which will be unveiled at the Welcome to Frostburg Festival on Sept. 14, at City Place.
The Cover-Up Girls began work on this project last fall, at the request of Barb Armstrong, bicentennial organizer.
Recognizing the importance of quilting as folk art and the deep roots of the art in this community, Armstrong felt it only fitting to have a quilt created to mark this special milestone in the history of the Mountain?City.
The quilt is an Eleanor Burns Candy Jar pattern. The women chose this pattern because it allows autographs or names to be included in the pattern.
More than 116 individuals/businesses made donations to have the honor of seeing their name or that of a loved one on the quilt.
In addition, the names of the Cover-Up Girls will also be featured on the the quilt in honor of the time and talent each of them contributed.
The quilt features colors that compliment the palette of the bicentennial logo. A black border was chosen to really allow the colors to "pop."
A shadow-box is bring created to showcase the completed quilt and it will be on permanent display at City Place.
The bicentennial quilt is a machine-pieced and hand-quilted piece.
The permanent display will also include notebook register featuring the names of the many donors, as well as a timeline of the quilt's creation and photographs of the process from beginning to end.
Members of the Cover-Up Girls, ranging in age from 58 to 88, said completing this project has been an honor and they are thrilled to be a part of the community's historic celebration.
"We hope that one day our great-grandchildren will see our names and say, my grandma helped make that," said project coordinator Nellie Clarke.
There are 18 members in the Cover-Up Girls and they have dedicated more than 300 hours to this project.
The quilt is just one example of the group's giving spirit.
The Cover-Up Girls have created numerous pieces that have been donated and raffled for various causes and special events.
They have also sewn lap-robes and other projects that have been donated to local hospice centers and nursing homes.
Proceeds from their projects are donated to area food banks, shelters, fire departments and many others.
The Cover-Up Girls also make regular contributions to the Allegany County's Human Resources Development Commission, the department that supports the Frostburg Senior Center.
"Basically, we give anywhere there is a need," said Clarke.
Clarke said that, at times, there seems to be more laughter than sewing going on during the quilting sessions, more evidence of the joy these women have found with each other and in an art form that spans generations.
"We laugh and cry together and at times it's more about fellowship and sometimes it is like therapy," Clarke said, with a laugh.
The group is not limited to seasoned quilters.
"The Cover-Up Girls is open to anyone who has a desire to create new friendships and make something beautiful, while doing something for the community," Helen Squires said.
Members warmly welcomed newcomer Ruth Booth to their group, teaching her the skills needed to become a quilter.
"After I retired, I?came along with my mom and soon they were teaching me how to quilt," Booth said.
Booth's granddaughter, Kennedy, now accompanies her to the quilting sessions and members have dubbed the 16-month-old the "youngest Cover-Up Girl."
Squires said Booth's experience is the epitome of the art of quilting. "Quilting is not meant to be done alone, it is meant to be done with others. Here we are in a beautiful facility, with interesting people who all share a love and common interest in quilting, that is what is it all about."
The bicentennial quilt will be unveiled at a free, open event that will serve as the kick-off celebration for the three-day Frostburg Bicentennial celebration.
The Cover-Up Girls will be recognized for their extraordinary efforts during the celebration.
"The art of piecing special fabrics together in such a way that memorializes a person, a place or an event is timeless. Add in the Cover-Up Girls, and we have the perfect project for our birthday celebration," Armstrong said.
"The Cover-Up Girls have met the mission of the Frostburg Bicentennial: to recall the past, celebrate who we are today and leave a little something for tomorrow. They truly demonstrate what quality of life is all about in a small town. They were one of the first projects turned in to the steering committee for approval, and I'm excited to see the fruits of their labor at the unveiling."